The Martens Clause and War Crimes in Hawai‘i

The term “war crimes” was not coined until 1919 after the First World War ended in Europe. A common misunderstanding is that individuals whose criminal conduct constituted a war crime could only be prosecuted if that conduct arose after 1919. This is not the case because under the principles of international law, war crimes could have been committed since, at least, 1874, when delegates of fifteen European States gathered in Brussels, Belgium, at the request of Russia’s Czar Alexander II, in order to draft an international agreement concerning the laws and customs of war.

Among these fifteen States an agreement was made, but it wasn’t ratified by these States. It did, however, lead to the adoption of the Manual of the Laws and Customs of War at Oxford in 1880. Both the Brussels Declaration and the Oxford Manual formed the basis of the two Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.

At the Peace Conference held in The Hague, Netherlands in 1899, countries from across the world met in order to codify what was already accepted as customary international law regarding the rules of warfare and occupation, which is known today as international humanitarian law. The cornerstone of international humanitarian law during the occupation of a State is the duty of the occupying State to administer the laws of the occupied State, which is reflected in Article 43 of the 1899 Hague Convention, II.

Article 43 states, “The authority of the legitimate power having actually passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all steps in his power to re-establish and insure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.” This article is a combination of Article 2, “The authority of the legitimate Power being suspended and having in fact passed into the hands of the occupants, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety,” and Article 3, “With this object he shall maintain the laws which were in force in the country in time of peace, and shall not modify, suspend or replace them unless necessary,”  of the 1874 Brussels Declaration. The Brussels Declaration was referenced in the Preamble of the 1899 Hague Convention, II. Article 43 was restated in the 1907 Hague Convention, IV.

Although the United States signed and ratified both the 1899 and the 1907 Hague Regulations, which post-date the occupation of the Hawaiian Islands, the “text of Article 43,” according to Benvenisti, author of The International Law of Occupation (1993), p. 8, “was accepted by scholars as mere reiteration of the older law, and subsequently the article was generally recognized as expressing customary international law.” Graber, author of The Development of the Law of Belligerent Occupation: 1863-1914 (1949), p. 143, also states, that “nothing distinguishes the writing of the period following the 1899 Hague code from the writing prior to that code.”

As an occupying State, the United States was obligated to establish a military government, whose purpose would be to provisionally administer the laws of the occupied State—the Hawaiian Kingdom—until a treaty of peace or agreement to terminate the occupation has been done. According to United States Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956), sec. 362, “Military government is the form of administration by which an occupying power exercises governmental authority over occupied territory.” The administration of occupied territory is set forth in the Hague Regulations, being Section III of the 1907 HC IV. According to Schwarzenberger, author of “The Law of Belligerent Occupation: Basic Issues,” 30 Nordisk Tidsskrift Int’l Ret (1960), p. 11, “Section III of the Hague Regulations … was declaratory of international customary law.”

Also, consistent with what was generally considered the international law of occupation in force at the time of the Spanish-American War, the “military governments established in the territories occupied by the armies of the United States were instructed to apply, as far as possible, the local laws and to utilize, as far as seemed wise, the services of the local Spanish officials (Munroe Smith, “Record of Political Events,” 13(4) Political Science Quarterly (1898), 745, p. 748).”

Many other authorities also viewed the 1907 Hague Regulations as mere codification of customary international law, which was applicable at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian government and subsequent occupation. These include: Gerhard von Glahn, The Occupation of Enemy Territory: A Commentary on the Law and Practice of Belligerent Occupation (1957), 95; David Kretzmer, The Occupation of Justice: The Supreme Court of Israel and the Occupied Territories (2002), 57; Ludwig von Kohler, The Administration of the Occupied Territories, vol. I, (1942) 2; United States Judge Advocate General’s School Tex No. 11, Law of Belligerent Occupation (1944), 2 (stating that “Section III of the Hague Regulations is in substance a codification of customary law and its principles are binding signatories and non-signatories alike”).

The contracting States to the 1899 Hague Convention, II, also recognized that they were codifying existing customary international law and not creating new law. In its Preamble, it states, “Until a more complete code of the laws of war is issued, the High Contracting Parties think it right to declare that in cases not included in the Regulations adopted by them, populations and belligerents remain under the protection and empire of the principles of international law, as they result from the usages established between civilized nations, from the laws of humanity, and the requirements of the public conscience.” This particular provision of the Preamble has come to be known as the Martens clause. Professor von Martens was the Russian delegate at the 1899 Hague Peace Conference, that recommended this provision be placed in the Preamble after the delegates were unable to agree on the status of civilians who took up arms against the occupying State.

The Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on Enforcement of Penalties was established at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 after World War I. Its role was to investigate the allegations of war crimes and recommend who should be prosecuted. In its report (Pamphlet No. 32, p. 18), the Commission identified 32 war crimes, two of which were “usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation” and “attempts to denationalise the inhabitants of occupied territory.”

Although these crimes were not specifically identified in 1899 Hague Convention, II, or the 1907 Hague Convention, IV, the Commission relied solely on the Martens clause in the 1899 Hague Convention, II. In other words, the Commission concluded that the war crimes of “usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation” and “attempts to denationalise the inhabitants of occupied territory” were recognized under principles of international law since at least the 1874 Brussels Declaration.

Under the war crime of usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation, the Commission concluded that from 1915-1918, Bulgaria engaged in criminal conduct when it “Proclaimed that the Serbian State no longer existed, and that Serbian territory had become Bulgarian,” and that “official orders show efforts of Bulgarisation (Pamphlet No. 32, p. 38).” The Commission also concluded Bulgaria committed the following acts of usurpation of sovereignty:

  • Serbian law, courts, and administration ousted
  • Taxes collected under Bulgarian fiscal regime
  • Serbian currency suppressed
  • Public property removed or destroyed, including books, archives and MSS (g., from the National Library, the University Library, Serbian Legation at Sofia, French Consulate at Uskub)
  • Prohibited sending Serbian Red Cross to occupied Serbia

The Commission also concluded that Austrian and German authorities also engaged in the following criminal conduct of usurpation of sovereignty during military occupation from 1915 to 1918 during the occupation of Serbia (Pamphlet No. 32, p. 38).

  • The Austrians suspended many Serbian laws and substituted their own, especially in penal matters, in procedure, judicial reorganization, &c.
  • Museums belonging to the State (g., Belgrade, Detchani) were emptied and the contents taken to Vienna

Under the war crime of attempts to denationalize the inhabitants of occupied territory, the Commission concluded that from 1915-1918, Bulgaria engaged in the following criminal conduct in occupied Serbia (Pamphlet No. 32, p. 39).

  • Efforts to impose their national characteristics on the population
  • Serbian language forbidden in private as well as official relations
  • People beaten for saying “Good morning” in Serbian
  • Inhabitants forced to give their names a Bulgarian form
  • Serbian books banned—were systematically destroyed
  • Archives of churches and law courts destroyed
  • Schools and churches closed, sometimes destroyed
  • Bulgarian schools and churches substituted—attendance at school made compulsory
  • Population forced to be present at Bulgarian national solemnities

The Commission also concluded that Austrian and German authorities also engaged in the following criminal conduct of attempts to denationalize the inhabitants of occupied territory from 1915 to 1918 during the occupation of Serbia (Pamphlet No. 32, p. 39).

  • Austrians and Germans interfered with religious worship, by deportation of priests and requisition of churches for military purposes
  • Interfered with use of Serbian language

The prosecution of German officials and their Allies for war crimes committed during World War I, however, was dismal. Of 5,000 individuals reported for war crimes only 12 were tried and 6 were convicted. Despite this failure, it was the beginning of imposing criminal liability on individuals for violations of international law that eventually became firmly grounded after the Second World War, which led to war crimes legislation in countries who were contracting parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and also the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

Under the principles of international law, officials of the United States were capable of committing war crimes when the Hawaiian Kingdom was first invaded on January 16, 1893 and occupied since January 17 when the Hawaiian government was unlawfully seized. The criminal conduct committed by German, Austrian and Bulgarian officials against Serbia and its people during the First World War (1914-1918) are very similar to the criminal conduct by the United States since January 16, 1893 against the Hawaiian Kingdom and its people.

First Sitting of the International Commission of Inquiry on ‘Iolani Palace Grounds

The International Commission of Inquiry in Incidents of War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands—The Larsen Case that stems from the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitration held at the Permanent Court of Arbitration from 1999-2001, will be holding its first hearing on the grounds of ‘Iolani Palace at the Kana‘ina Building on January 16 and 17, 2018.

The hearing will be closed to the public, but the proceedings will be live streamed on the Internet. At the core of these proceedings will be the unlawful imposition of American laws that led to the unfair trial, unlawful confinement and pillaging of Lance Paul Larsen, a Hawaiian subject and victim of war crimes committed against him by the United States through its armed force—the State of Hawai‘i. These war crimes were committed in 1999.

These two days will mark 125 years of the American invasion of the Hawaiian Kingdom on January 16th and the conditional surrender of the Hawaiian government by Queen Lili‘uokalani on January 17th calling upon the President of the United States to investigate the unlawful actions taken by its diplomat who ordered the landing of U.S. troops. While in the Palace, the Queen drafted the following conditional surrender to the United States:

After investigating the overthrow of the Hawaiian government, President Cleveland notified Congress on December 18, 1893, that the “military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu was of itself an act of war.” Cleveland noted “that on the 16th day of January, 1893, between four and five o’clock in the afternoon, a detachment of marines from the United States steamer Boston, with two pieces of artillery, landed at Honolulu. The men, upwards of 160 in all, were supplied with double cartridge belts filled with ammunition and with haversacks and canteens, and were accompanied by a hospital corps with stretchers and medical supplies.” He then concluded that by “an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown.”

Under international law, when a Head of State concludes that an act of war was committed by its military on foreign soil it changes the state of affairs from a state of peace to a state of war. According to McDougal and Feliciano, authors of “The Initiation of Coercion: A Multi-temporal Analysis,” 52 American Journal of International Law (1958) p. 247, a state of war “automatically brings about the full operation of all the rules of war and neutrality.” And, according to Venturini, author of “The Temporal Scope of Application of the Conventions,” in Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta, and Marco Sassòli (eds), The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary (2015), p. 52, if “an armed conflict occurs, the law of armed conflict must be applied from the beginning until the end, when the law of peace resumes in full effect.”

Koman, author of The Right of Conquest: The Acquisition of Territory by Force in International Law and Practice (1996), p. 224, states that “the laws of war … continue to apply in the occupied territory even after the achievement of military victory, until either the occupant withdraws or a treaty of peace is concluded which transfers sovereignty to the occupant.” In the Tadić case, decision on the Defense Motion for Interlocutory Appeal on Jurisdiction (Appeals Chamber), October 2, 1995, §70, the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia indicated that the laws of war—international humanitarian law—applies from “the initiation of … armed conflicts and extends beyond the cessation of hostilities until a general conclusion of peace is reached.”

The political determination by President Cleveland, regarding the actions taken by the military forces of the United States since January 16, 1893, was the same as the political determination by President Roosevelt regarding actions taken by the military forces of Japan on December 7, 1945 in its attack of Pearl Harbor. On December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt notified Congress:

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation… [and] since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

Both political determinations by these Presidents created a “state of war” for the United States under international law. Japan entered into a peace treaty in 1951, which came into effect the following year. However, there is no treaty of peace between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States. Consequently, the United States was bound by customary international law to administer the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom until a peace treaty has been negotiated. After Japan signed a treaty of surrender in 1945, the United States occupied Japan until 1952 whereby a military government was formed, with General MacArthur as its military governor, and who administered Japanese law and not American law.

The deliberate failure by the United States to administer Hawaiian Kingdom law has led to the unlawful imposition of American laws in the Hawaiian Kingdom that formed the basis of the dispute between Lance Larsen, a Hawaiian subject, and the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague, Netherlands. The unlawful imposition of American laws within Hawaiian territory is the war crime of “usurpation of sovereignty” of the occupied State. And the failure to comply with the law of occupation in the administration of Hawaiian Law according to Article 43 of the 1907 Hague Convention, IV, is a war crime as well.

Commission of Inquiry Formed: Professor Schabas Final Commissioner Appointed

Professor William Schabas is the final commissioner to be appointed as a member of the International Commission of Inquiry in Incidents of War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands—The Larsen Case that stems from the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitration held at the Permanent Court of Arbitration from 1999-2001. Professor Schabas was appointed by the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and Dexter Kaiama, attorney for Lance Larsen, on October 14, 2017.

The Commission of Inquiry has been duly constituted which comprises of Professor Schabas from Middlesex University London and the University of Leiden, Professor Pierre D’Argent from the  University of Louvain and Professor Jean d’Aspremont from the University of Manchester.

In these proceedings, the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom is represented by Dr. Keanu Sai, as Agent, Professor Federico Lenzerini, Ph.D., as Deputy-Agent, and Ben Emmerson, QC, from the Matrix Chambers in London, as Counsel.

William Schabas is professor of international law at Middlesex University in London. He is also professor of international criminal law and human rights at the University of Leiden. Professor Schabas is also emeritus professor of human rights law at the National University of Ireland Galway and honorary chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, invited visiting scholar at the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Politiques), honorary professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, visiting fellow of Kellogg College of the University of Oxford, visiting fellow of Northumbria University, and professeur associé at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Prof. Schabas is a ‘door tenant’ at the chambers of 9 Bedford Row, in London.

Professor Schabas holds BA and MA degrees in history from the University of Toronto and LLB, LLM and LLD degrees from the University of Montreal, as well as honorary doctorates in law from several universities. He is the author of more than twenty books dealing in whole or in part with international human rights law, including: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: travaux préparatoires (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Unimaginable Atrocities, Justice, Politics and Rights at the War Crimes Tribunals (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), The International Criminal Court: A Commentary on the Rome Statute (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), Introduction to the International Criminal Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 4th ed.), Genocide in International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 2009) and The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 3rd ed.). He has also published more than 350 articles in academic journals, principally in the field of international human rights law and international criminal law. His writings have been translated into Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Nepali and Albanian.

Professor Schabas is editor-in-chief of Criminal Law Forum, the quarterly journal of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law.He is President of the Irish Branch of the International Law Association and chair of the International Institute for Criminal Investigation. From 2002 to 2004 he served as one of three international members of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Professor Schabas has worked as a consultant on capital punishment for the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, and drafted the 2010 and 2015 reports of the Secretary-General on the status of the death penalty.

Professor Schabas was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006. He was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2007. He has been awarded the Vespasian V. Pella Medal for International Criminal Justice of the Association internationale de droit pénal, and the Gold Medal in the Social Sciences of the Royal Irish Academy.

The Commission of Inquiry will hold its first hearing in Honolulu on January 16 and 17, 2018, which marks the 125th year of the United States’ invasion on the 16th, the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government on the 17th, and the ensuing prolonged occupation since. According to Article III of the Special Agreement to form an International Commission of Inquiry:

“The Commission is requested to determine: First, what is the function and role of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law; Second, what are the duties and obligations of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Lance Paul Larsen, and, by extension, toward all Hawaiian subjects domiciled in Hawaiian territory and abroad in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law; and, Third, what are the duties and obligations of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Protected Persons who are domiciled in Hawaiian territory and those Protected Persons who are transient in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law.”

Law Across the Sea: Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom

On October 9, 2017, Dr. Keanu Sai was interviewed on a show “Law Across the Sea” hosted by Mark Shklov who is a practicing attorney. The interview centered on the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitration and the International Commission of Inquiry in Incidents of War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands—The Larsen Case that stemmed from the arbitration case.

Professor D’Argent Second Commissioner Appointed

Professor Pierre D’Argent is the second of three commissioners to be appointed as a member of the International Commission of Inquiry in Incidents of War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands—The Larsen Case that stems from the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitration held at the Permanent Court of Arbitration from 1999-2001. Professor D’Argent was appointed by the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and Dexter Kaiama, attorney for Lance Larsen, on October 8, 2017.

In these proceedings, the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom is represented by Dr. Keanu Sai, as Agent, Professor Federico Lenzerini, Ph.D., as Deputy-Agent, and Ben Emmerson, QC, from the Matrix Chambers in London, as Counsel.

Pierre D’Argent is full professor at the University of Louvain in Belgium, where he holds the Public International Law Chair. He is also a guest professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He is Associate Member of the Institut de droit international and member of the Brussels Bar, acting as special counsel to Foley Hoag LLP. He specializes in advising and representing states before international courts and tribunals. He appeared as counsel before the International Court of Justice and later served the court as first secretary.

He has published extensively in matters relating to international law and has lectured in many universities around the world. He has been director of studies at The Hague Academy of International Law and has taught a specialized course at the Academy. He has contributed to the UN Audiovisual Library of International Law.

The Commission of Inquiry will hold its first hearing in Honolulu on January 16 and 17, 2018, which marks the 125th year of the United States’ invasion on the 16th, the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government on the 17th, and the ensuing prolonged occupation since. According to Article III of the Special Agreement to form an International Commission of Inquiry:

“The Commission is requested to determine: First, what is the function and role of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law; Second, what are the duties and obligations of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Lance Paul Larsen, and, by extension, toward all Hawaiian subjects domiciled in Hawaiian territory and abroad in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law; and, Third, what are the duties and obligations of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Protected Persons who are domiciled in Hawaiian territory and those Protected Persons who are transient in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law.”

Professor D’Aspremont First Commissioner Appointed

Professor Jean D’Aspremont is the first of three commissioners to be appointed as a member of the International Commission of Inquiry in Incidents of War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands—The Larsen Case that stems from the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitration held at the Permanent Court of Arbitration from 1999-2001. Professor D’Aspremont was appointed by the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and Dexter Kaiama, attorney for Lance Larsen, on October 7, 2017.

In these proceedings, the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom is represented by Dr. Keanu Sai, as Agent, Professor Federico Lenzerini, Ph.D., as Deputy-Agent, and Ben Emmerson, QC, from the Matrix Chambers in London, as Counsel.

Jean d’Aspremont is Professor of Public International Law at the University of Manchester where he founded the Manchester International Law Centre (MILC) with Professor Iain Scobbie. He is General Editor of the Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law and director of the Oxford Database on International Organizations. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Journal of International Law. He is series editor of the Melland Schill Studies in International Law.

He used to be Editor-in-Chief of the Leiden Journal of International Law as well as series editor of the Elgar International Law Series. He was guest professor at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (HEID/University of Geneva), the University of Louvain, and the University of Lille. He acted as counsel in proceedings before the International Court of Justice. Before moving to Manchester, he was Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Amsterdam and Assistant Professor of International Law at the University of Leiden. He received his LL.M. from the University of Cambridge and his Ph.D. from the University of Louvain. In 2005-06, he was a Global Research Fellow at New York University (NYU), affiliated with the Institute of International Law and Justice (IILJ).

The Commission of Inquiry will hold its first hearing in Honolulu on January 16 and 17, 2018, which marks the 125th year of the United States’ invasion on the 16th, the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government on the 17th, and the ensuing prolonged occupation since. According to Article III of the Special Agreement to form an International Commission of Inquiry:

“The Commission is requested to determine: First, what is the function and role of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law; Second, what are the duties and obligations of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Lance Paul Larsen, and, by extension, toward all Hawaiian subjects domiciled in Hawaiian territory and abroad in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law; and, Third, what are the duties and obligations of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Protected Persons who are domiciled in Hawaiian territory and those Protected Persons who are transient in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law.”

Hawaiian Kingdom Legal Team Complete

Dr. Keanu Sai recently returned from London after meeting with the Matrix Chambers who has joined his legal team in the international commission of inquiry proceedings stemming from the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom (1999-2001) case held under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Matrix Chambers is one of the leading law firms in the United Kingdom and has represented countries before international courts and tribunals.

These proceedings were initiated on January 19, 2017 by Special Agreement between the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and Lance Paul Larsen. Both Parties agreed to the rules provided under Part III—International Commissions of Inquiry (Articles 9-36) of the 1907 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. Once the Commission of Inquiry has been formed they will hold their hearings in the Hawaiian Kingdom. The formation of the Commission is moving forward. According to the Special Agreement,

“The Commission is requested to determine: First, what is the function and role of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in accordance with the basic norm and framework of international humanitarian law; and, Second, what are the duties and obligations of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Lance Paul Larsen, and, by extension, toward all Hawaiian subjects domiciled in Hawaiian territory and abroad in accordance with the basic norm and framework of international humanitarian law.”

Dr. Sai heads the Hawaiian Kingdom legal team as Agent, Professor Federico Lenzerini from the University of Siena Law School in Italy is the Deputy-Agent, and Ben Emmerson, QC, from the Matrix Chambers is Counsel. Mr. Emmerson is the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights. He was also elected by the United Nations General Assembly as one of the Judges for the International Criminal Court for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia. His expertise is in international criminal law and served as Special Advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The first allegations of war crimes committed in Hawai‘i, being unfair trial, unlawful confinement and pillaging, were made the subject of an arbitral dispute in Lance Larsen vs. Hawaiian Kingdom at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). Oral hearings were held at the PCA on December 7, 8, and 11, 2000. As an intergovernmental organization, the PCA must possess institutional jurisdiction before it can form ad hoc tribunals. The jurisdiction of the PCA is distinguished from the subject-matter jurisdiction of the ad hoc tribunal over the dispute between the parties.

Disputes capable of being accepted under the PCA’s institutional jurisdiction include disputes between: any two or more states; a state and an international organization, such as an agency of the United Nations; two or more international organizations; a state and a private party; and an international organization and a private entity. The PCA accepted the case as a dispute between a state and a private party, and acknowledged the Hawaiian Kingdom as a non-Contracting Power under Article 47 of the 1907 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. As stated on the PCA’s website:

“Lance Paul Larsen, a resident of Hawaii, brought a claim against the Hawaiian Kingdom by its Council of Regency (“Hawaiian Kingdom”) on the grounds that the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom is in continual violation of: (a) its 1849 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with the United States of America, as well as the principles of international law laid down in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969 and (b) the principles of international comity, for allowing the unlawful imposition of American municipal laws over the claimant’s person within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hawaiian Kingdom.”

The Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom, as it stood on January 17 1893, was restored in 1995, in situ and not in exile. An acting Council of Regency comprised of four Ministers—Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance and the Attorney General—was established in accordance with the Hawaiian constitution and the doctrine of necessity to serve in the absence of the executive monarch. By virtue of this process a Provisional Government, comprised of officers de facto, was established. According to U.S. constitutional scholar Thomas Cooley,

“A provisional government is supposed to be a government de facto for the time being; a government that in some emergency is set up to preserve order; to continue the relations of the people it acts for with foreign nations until there shall be time and opportunity for the creation of a permanent government. It is not in general supposed to have authority beyond that of a mere temporary nature resulting from some great necessity, and its authority is limited to the necessity.”

Like other governments formed in exile during foreign occupations, the Hawaiian government did not receive its mandate from the Hawaiian citizenry, but rather by virtue of Hawaiian constitutional law, and therefore represents the Hawaiian state. The Provisional Government is not a new government, but rather a restoration of the Hawaiian Government that existed on January 17, 1893, before it was illegally seized and transformed into an insurgency by the United States. In 2001, Bederman and Hilbert reported in the American Journal of International Law,

“At the center of the PCA proceedings was … that the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist and that the Hawaiian Council of Regency (representing the Hawaiian Kingdom) is legally responsible under international law for the protection of Hawaiian subjects, including the claimant. In other words, the Hawaiian Kingdom was legally obligated to protect Larsen from the United States’ ‘unlawful imposition [over him] of [its] municipal laws’ through its political subdivision, the State of Hawaii. As a result of this responsibility, Larsen submitted, the Hawaiian Council of Regency should be liable for any international law violations that the United States had committed against him.”

The Tribunal concluded that it did not possess subject matter jurisdiction in the case because of the indispensible third party rule. The Tribunal explained:

“It follows that the Tribunal cannot determine whether the respondent [the Hawaiian Kingdom] has failed to discharge its obligations towards the claimant [Larsen] without ruling on the legality of the acts of the United States of America. Yet that is precisely what the Monetary Gold principle precludes the Tribunal from doing. As the International Court of Justice explained in the East Timor case, ‘the Court could not rule on the lawfulness of the conduct of a State when its judgment would imply an evaluation of the lawfulness of the conduct of another State which is not a party to the case.’”

The Tribunal, however, acknowledged that the parties to the arbitration could pursue fact-finding. The Tribunal stated, “At one stage of the proceedings the question was raised whether some of the issues which the parties wished to present might not be dealt with by way of a fact-finding process. In addition to its role as a facilitator of international arbitration and conciliation, the Permanent Court of Arbitration has various procedures for fact-finding, both as between States and otherwise.”

The Tribunal noted “that the interstate fact-finding commissions so far held under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration have not confined themselves to pure questions of fact but have gone on, expressly or by clear implication, to deal with issues of responsibility for those facts.” The Tribunal pointed out that “Part III of each of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 provide for International Commissions of Inquiry.”

To date, there have only been five international commissions of inquiry held under the auspices of the PCA—the first in 1905, The Dogger Bank Case (Great Britain – Russia), and the last in 1962, Red Crusader’ Incident (Great Britain – Denmark). These commissions of inquiry formed under the 1907 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes serve in similar fashion to grand juries where they not only inquire into the facts of the case but also assign criminal or civil liability for another court or tribunal to prosecute.

Big Island Video News (BIVN): Teacher’s Union to Document Illegal Occupation

HILO, Hawaii – The political scientist, acting as an agent for the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in international proceedings, believes the time is right to go forward with an International Commission of Inquiry at the Hague.

(BIVN) – “This is big,” announced Dr. Keanu Sai in the gymnasium of the Boys & Girls Club in Hilo on Saturday.

Sai, one of several featured speakers in a two day educational seminar organized in celebration of the Hawaiian holiday of La Ho‘iho‘i ‘Ea, was talking about the news that came from the National Education Association’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly in Boston, Massachusetts on July 4th.

A group with the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association – the NEA affiliate union representing the public school teachers of Hawaii – successfully convinced the teachers of America to approve New Business Item 37, which stated:

“The NEA will publish an article that documents the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893, the prolonged illegal occupation of the United States in the Hawaiian Kingdom and the harmful effects that this occupation has had on the Hawaiian people and resources of the land.”

HSTA credited Chris Santomauro, a teacher at Kaneohe Elementary, with introducing the proposal and Uluhani Waialeale, a teacher at Kualapuu charter school on Moloka’i, for presenting an “impassioned and articulate argument in favor of the Hawaiian overthrow measure” which “swayed a majority of teachers from across the country to support it.”

“That’s big. This is not political, this is education,” Sai said as he explained the HSTA proposal to those gathered for his talk in Hilo.

According to Sai, the HSTA Secretary/Treasurer is Amy Perruso, a teacher from Mililani High School. She was one of the first teachers to begin teaching about the illegal overthrow of the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the illegal American occupation that followed. Perruso even teaches from Sai’s textbook, Ua Mau Ke Ea—Sovereignty Endures: An Overview of the Political and Legal History of the Hawaiian Islands.

“I pretty much can guarantee you that the teachers that are teaching about Hawaii’s occupation probably came through one of our classes at the University of Hawaii,” Sai said, claiming he had nothing to do with the HSTA’s plan to draw up the agenda item. “That’s the impact right there,” Sai said, “where they are taking their kuleana and maximizing it.”

Ever since Sai’s first trip to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2001, where he represented the Hawaiian Kingdom government in the Larsen v the Hawaiian Kingdom case, Sai has made the education of Hawaii’s people his top priority.

Now, inspired by stories like the one of the HSTA in Boston, Sai feels affirmed that “it’s time to go fact-finding.”

“I think the time is right. Let’s enter into an agreement with Lance Larsen, go fact-finding,” Sai said, adding that during the 2001 proceedings before the the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the tribunal “didn’t say you can create the fact-finding within 20 years. It said all it needs is an agreement.”

Sai said two of the arbitrators are now sitting judges on the International Court of Justice.

“So, what we’re going to do is convene the original arbitrators who made the statement to be that Commission of Inquiry,” Sai said. “Because I found out that sitting judges on the International Court of Justice can also serve as arbitrators and commissioners at the permanent Court of Arbitration.”

Commissions of inquiry under the auspices of the Permanent Court serve in a similar capacity as grand juries, Sai told the audience. Commissions of Inquiry not only review sets of facts, but also assign responsibilities regarding these facts. That could be civil liability or criminal liability in international law, Sai said.

To date there have only been five International Commission’s of Inquiry, Sai said. The first was Great Britain and Russia in 1905. The most recent was Great Britain and Denmark in 1962.

“This is not… a happy time, but this is a serious time,” Sai said. “Now, what’s important here is, this agreement which will form three commissioners under the Hague Convention… they will answer the first question. First, what is the function and role of the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in accordance with the basic norm and framework of international humanitarian law?”

Humanitarian law is the law of occupation and laws of war, Sai said. “Before you can address what is the role of the Hawaiian government during occupation, you have to do that in the light of what happened since 1893. You have to address what the United States did or didn’t do that got us into this situation of possible culpability of the Hawaiian government toward one of its Nationals. Is it our fault that everybody’s brainwashed?

Who’s responsible for that?”

Before the commission can answer that question, they have to “address over a hundred years of non-compliance to humanitarian law,” Sai said. “That’s how it works. Then, in light of all this… what do we do? Are we liable?”

Sai says the commission will also ask, “what are the duties and obligations of the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Lance Larson and – by extension – toward all Hawaiian subjects residing in Hawaii, and abroad?”

“What do we do about Lance Larson? Do we sign a reparation where we now have to pay him?” Sai asked. “Do we report the crimes to the International Criminal Court for prosecution? Where do we go?”

“Let them tell us,” Sai said. “They have the authority. We’re in the procedures. So, I don’t know what they’re going to say. I don’t. Just as I didn’t know what they would say during the proceedings of arbitration. I just know I have to take every step to protect the Hawaiian government. Because we’re in it. We’re now being put to that test.”

Sai added that once the Commission has been convened, they are going to make an important recommendation. “We’re gonna have the hearings in Hawaii,” Sai said, to a round of applause.

“I mean, this is not a political stunt. This is procedural,” Sai said. “Because… back in the year 2000, we entertained whether or not the tribunal could have their hearings in Hawaii. That was under consideration. And, after complete review, we said ‘no, there is confusion at home’. Now, I think our people are ready. They have the knowledge, they have the understanding.”

Sai again pointed to the recent HSTA victory in getting their “illegal occupation” proposal passed at the NEA meeting in Boston.

“Can you now understand,” Sai asked the crowd, “the Commission of Inquiry will probably be looking into these very issues.”

Big Island Video News (BIVN): Denationalization in the Hawaiian Kingdom

HILO, Hawaii – Kauai’s talk was entitled “Understanding the impact of denationalization in the Hawaiian Kingdom”.

(BIVN) – As a part of the two day La Hoʻihoʻi ʻEa educational seminar held at the Boys & Girls Club in Hilo, Dr. Wille Kauai gives a talk, Understanding the impact of denationalization in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

The presenter delved into the history and issues surrounding nationality, race, and citizenship in the context of the prolonged occupation of Hawaii by the Untied States.

Big Island Video News (BIVN): Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom

HILO, Hawaii – Sai’s talk was entitled “The current role of the Acting Hawaiian Kingdom government in the prolonged occupation”. 

(BIVN) – As a part of the two day La Hoʻihoʻi ʻEa educational seminar held at the Boys & Girls Club in Hilo, Dr. Keanu Sai gives a presentation, The current role of the Acting Hawaiian Kingdom government in the prolonged occupation.

Sai talks about how there is a state of war between the United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom, his efforts as lead agent for the Kingdom at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the ongoing education of Lāhui.

Calculating Reparations for 124 years of an Unjust War between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States since 1893

 

The ongoing illegal state of war between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States since 1893 and the prolonged occupation has violated all norms of international law. As we are approaching the international exposure of the prolonged occupation through the international commission of inquiry proceedings stemming from the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom held under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, it is timely to address other wars and subsequent occupations that the United States was involved, which eventually came to an end with the payment of reparations. These were the wars with Japan from 1941-51 and with Italy from 1938-47.

Here follows the reparations for war paid by the Japanese under the 1851 Treaty of Peace and by the Italians under the 1947 Treaty of Peace.

Reparation Payments:

Reparations were made by Japan pursuant to Article 14(a), 1951 Japan Treaty of Peace, which states, “It is recognized that Japan should pay reparations to the Allied Powers for the damage suffering caused by it during the war.” Below are Japanese reparations to countries for 10 years of war (1941-51).

Country Amount in US$ Date of Treaty
Burma $200 million Nov. 5, 1955
Philippines $550 million May 9, 1956
Indonesia $223 million Jan. 20, 1958
Vietnam $39 million May 13, 1959
Average $250 million Mean year—1957
Inflation calculator $2 billion Year—2017

Italian reparations to countries for 9 years of war (1938-47) were made pursuant to Article 74 of the 1947 Italian Treaty of Peace.

Country Amount in US$ Date of Treaty
Soviet Union $100 million Feb. 10, 1947
Albania $5 million
Ethiopia $25 million
Greece $105 million
Yugoslavia $125 million
Average $72 million Year—1947
Inflation calculator $890 million Year—2017

As a basis to calculate the amount of reparations that could be owed to the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States up to the year of 2017, which is 124 years of war, the Japanese and the Italian reparations paid could serve as a guide by applying their years of war to the years of war with the Hawaiian Kingdom. In the case of Japan, reparations to be paid by the United States could be calculated at $25 billion, which is $200 million annually multiplied by 124 years of war with the Hawaiian Kingdom. In the case of Italy, reparations could be calculated at $12 billion, which is $99 million annually multiplied by 124 years of war with the Hawaiian Kingdom.

This measurement could also be applied to other countries who are parties to the conflict and who have been complicit in the belligerent actions taken by the United States against the Hawaiian Kingdom such as the 20 States that unlawfully recognized the United States surrogate calling itself the so-called Republic of Hawai‘i in 1894. These States include Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway-Sweden, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. According to renowned American jurist, Professor Ellery Stowell, Intervention in International Law (1921) at 349, n. 75, a “foreign state which intervenes in support of [insurgents] commits an act of war against the state to which it belongs, and steps outside the law of nations in time of peace.”

Seizing of Assets:

Seizure of Japanese assets in the territories of Allied Powers was also done pursuant to Article 14(a)(2)(I), 1951 Japan Treaty of Peace, which states, “Subject to the provisions of sub-paragraph (II) below, each of the Allied Powers shall have the right to seize, retain, liquidate or otherwise dispose of all property, rights and interests of (a) Japan and Japanese nationals, (b) persons acting for or on behalf of Japan or Japanese nationals, and (c) entities owned or controlled by Japan or Japanese nationals, which on the first coming into force of the present Treaty were subject to its jurisdiction.”

Seizure of Italian assets in the territories of Allied Powers were made pursuant to Article 79, Italian Treaty of Peace, which states, “Each of the Allied and Associated Powers shall have the right to seize, retain, liquidate or take any other action with respect to all property, rights and interests which on the coming into force of the present Treaty are within its territory and belong to Italy or to Italian nationals, and to apply such property or the proceeds thereof to such purposes as it may desire, within the limits of its claims and those of its nationals against Italy or Italian nationals, including debts, other than claims fully satisfied under other Articles of the present Treaty.”

In the United States, Japanese assets seized amounted to $85 million (inflation conversion for 2017—$752 million), and Italian assets seized amounted to $62 million (inflation conversion for 2017—$766 million). Pursuant to Presidential Executive Order no. 9567—Alien Property Custodian (1945), the United States took title by “vesting” of all property of Japan and Germany and their nationals. Under the 1948 War Claims Act proceeds derived from these assets would not be returned, but rather placed in a War Claims Fund from which payments would be made to United States citizens that suffered as a consequence of the war with Japan and Germany.

Assets held by the United States and other States who are parties to the conflict since January 16, 1893, to include their nationals, within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hawaiian Kingdom are yet to be determined. The liquidation of these assets could be utilized in similar fashion as the United States did regarding Japanese and German properties vested under Alien Property Custodian, to compensate Hawaiian subjects who were subjected to forced conscription into the United States armed forces, to include deaths, during World War I, World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Who Determines a State of War Exists in International Law?

There has been some confusion as to who, in particular, determines whether a state of war exists for international law purposes. Is it a decision made by army commanders, international courts, or the heads of state? To answer this question we first need to understand the term war. By definition, war is a violent contention between two or more countries, called States, which is allowable under international law.

War as it is understood today is different from what it was understood in the nineteenth century when the Hawaiian Kingdom government was unlawfully overthrown by United States armed forces on January 17, 1893. According to Professor Brownlie, “The right of war, as an aspect of sovereignty, which existed in the period before 1914, subject to the doctrine that war was a means of last resort in the enforcement of legal rights, was very rarely asserted either by statesmen or works of authority without some stereotyped plea to a right of self-preservation, and of self-defence, or to necessity or protection of vital interests, or merely alleged injury to rights or national honour and dignity.” (Ian Brownlie, International Law and the Use of Force by States (1963) 41).

In the absence of a system of dispute resolution, such as today’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (est. 1899) or the International Court of Justice (est. 1945), war was seen as a form of judicial procedure, a litigation of sorts between nations that involved lethal punishment. It was a means by which one State could obtain redress for wrongs committed against it. War, however, was considered a course of last resort.

“It was generally thought that a state of war came into existence between two countries if, and only if, one of these countries made it clear that it regarded itself as being in a state of war,” says Judge Greenwood. (Christopher Greenwood, “Scope of Application of Humanitarian Law,” in Dieter Fleck (ed), The Handbook of the International Law of Military Operations (2nd ed., 2008) 45). Representatives of countries in international law are Heads of Governments, whether they are Presidents, Monarchs or Prime Ministers. Any political determination made by these Heads of States that their countries are in a state of war is conclusive. In the case of the United States it would be the President, and in the case of the Hawaiian Kingdom it would be the Monarch.

International law differentiates a “declaration of war” from a “state of war.” According to McNair and Watts, “the absence of a declaration…will not of itself render the ensuing conflict any less a war.” In other words, since a state of war is based upon concrete facts of military action there is no requirement for a formal declaration of war to be made. In 1946, a United States Federal Court had to determine whether a United States naval captain’s life insurance policy, which excluded coverage if death came about as a result of war, covered his death during the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1945. The family of the captain was arguing that the United States was not a war at the time of his death because the Congress did not declare war against Japan until the following day. The Court denied the family’s claim and determined, “that the formal declaration by the Congress on December 8th was not an essential prerequisite to a political determination of the existence of a state of war commencing with the attack on Pearl Harbor.” (New York Life Ins. Co. v. Bennion, 158 F.2d 260 (C.C.A. 10th, 1946), 41 American Journal of International Law (1947), 682).

On the 100th anniversary of the United States unlawful overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom government in 1893, the United States Congress enacted a joint resolution offering an apology. Of significance in the resolution was a particular “whereas” clause, which stated “Whereas, in a message to Congress on December 18, 1893, President Grover Cleveland reportedly fully and accurately on the illegal acts of the conspirators, described such acts as an ‘act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, and acknowledged that by such acts the government of a peaceful and friendly people was overthrown.” (Annexure 2Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, 119 International Law Reports (2001) 612).

At first read, it would appear that the “conspirators” were the subjects that committed the “act of war,” but this is misleading. First, under international law, only a country can commit an “act of war”, whether through its military and/or its diplomats; and, second, under municipal laws, which are the laws applicable to a particular country, conspirators within a country could only commit treason not “acts of war.” These two concepts are reflected in the terms coup de main and coup d’état. The former is a successful invasion by an outside military force, while the former is a successful internal revolt, which was also referred to in the nineteenth century as a revolution. According to the United States Department of Defense, a coup de main is an “offensive operation that capitalizes on surprise and simultaneous execution of supporting operations to achieve success in one swift stroke.” (U.S. Department of Defense, The Dictionary of Military Terms (2009)).

In a petition to President Cleveland on December 27, 1893, from the Hawaiian Patriotic League, its leadership, comprised of Hawaiian statesmen and lawyers, clearly articulated the difference between a “revolution” and a “coup de main,” and, as such, an international crime was committed. The petition read:

“Last January, a political crime was committed, not only against the legitimate Sovereign of the Hawaiian Kingdom, but also against the whole of the Hawaiian nation, a nation who, for the past sixty years, had enjoyed free and happy constitutional self-government. This was done by a coup de main of U.S. Minister Stevens, in collusion with a cabal of conspirators, mainly faithless sons of missionaries and local politicians angered by continuous political defeat, who, as revenge for being a hopeless minority in the country, resolved to ‘rule or ruin’ through foreign help. The facts of this ‘revolution,’ as it is improperly called, are now a matter of history.” (Petition of the Hawaiian Patriotic League to President Cleveland (Dec. 27, 1893), The Executive Documents of the House of Representatives (1895), 1295).

Whether by chance or design, the 1993 Congressional Apology Resolution did not accurately reflect what President Cleveland stated in his message to Congress on December 18, 1893. When Cleveland stated that the “military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu was of itself an act of war,” he was referring to United States armed forces and not to any of the conspirators. Cleveland noted, “that on the 16th day of January, 1893, between four and five o’clock in the afternoon, a detachment of marines from the United States steamer Boston, with two pieces of artillery, landed at Honolulu. The men, upwards of 160 in all, were supplied with double cartridge belts filled with ammunition and with haversacks and canteens, and were accompanied by a hospital corps with stretchers and medical supplies.” Clearly the act of war was committed by the armed forces of the United States. The landing, however, was just the beginning stage of a coup de main with the ultimate goal of seizing control of the Hawaiian government.

As part of the plan, the U.S. diplomat, John Stevens, would prematurely recognize the small group of insurgents on January 17th as if they were a successful revolution thereby giving it de facto status. International law, however, provides the parameters by which a revolution is deemed to have been successful. Foreign States would acknowledge success when an insurgency has secured complete control of all governmental machinery, no opposition by the lawful government, and has the acquiescence of the national population. According to Professor Lauterpacht, “So long as the revolution has not been successful, and so long as the lawful government…remains within national territory and asserts its authority, it is presumed to represent the State as a whole.” (E. Lauterpacht, Recognition in International Law (1947) 93). With full knowledge of what constitutes a successful revolution, Cleveland provided a blistering indictment:

“When our Minister recognized the provisional government the only basis upon which it rested was the fact that the Committee of Safety…declared it to exist. It was neither a government de facto nor de jure. That it was not in such possession of the Government property and agencies as entitled it to recognition is conclusively proved by a note found in the files of the Legation at Honolulu, addressed by the declared head of the provisional government to Minister Stevens, dated January 17, 1893, in which he acknowledges with expressions of appreciation the Minister’s recognition of the provisional government, and states that it is not yet in the possession of the station house (the place where a large number of the Queen’s troops were quartered), though the same had been demanded of the Queen’s officers in charge.” (Annexure 1—President Cleveland’s message to the Senate and House of Representatives dated 18 December 1893, Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, 119 International Law Reports (2001) 605).

“Premature recognition is a tortious act against the lawful government,” explains Professor Lauterpacht, which “is a breach of international law.” (Ibid, 95). And according to Stowell, a “foreign state which intervenes in support of [insurgents] commits an act of war against the state to which it belongs, and steps outside the law of nations in time of peace.” (Ellery C. Stowell, Intervention in International Law (1921) 349, n. 75). Furthermore Stapleton states, “Of all the principles in the code of international law, the most important—the one which the independent existence of all weaker States must depend—is this: no State has a right FORCIBLY to interfere in the internal concerns of another State.” (Augustus Granville Stapleton, Intervention and Non-Intervention (1866) 6).

Cleveland then explained to the Congress the egregious effects these acts of war had upon the Hawaiian government and its apprehension of a “cabal of conspirators” who committed high treason.

“Nevertheless, this wrongful recognition by our Minister placed the Government of the Queen in a position of most perilous perplexity. On the one hand she had possession of the palace, of the barracks, and of the police station, and had at her command at least five hundred fully armed men and several pieces of artillery. Indeed, the whole military force of her kingdom was on her side and at her disposal, while the Committee of Safety, by actual search, had discovered that there were but very few arms in Honolulu that were not in the service of the Government. In this state of things if the Queen could have dealt with the insurgents alone her course would have been plain and the result unmistakable. But the United States had allied itself with her enemies, had recognized them as the true Government of Hawaii, and had put her and her adherents in the position of opposition against lawful authority. She knew that she could not withstand the power of the United States, but she believed that she might safely trust to its justice. Accordingly, some hours after the recognition of the provisional government by the United States Minister, the palace, the barracks, and the police station, with all the military resources of the country, were delivered up by the Queen upon the representation made to her that her cause would thereafter be reviewed at Washington, and while protesting that she surrendered to the superior force of the United States, whose Minister had caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the provisional government, and that she yielded her authority to prevent collision of armed forces and loss of life and only until such time as the United States, upon the facts being presented to it, should undo the action of its representative and reinstate her in the authority she claimed as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.” (Annexure 1—President Cleveland’s message to the Senate and House of Representatives dated 18 December 1893, Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, 119 International Law Reports (2001) 606).

According to Professor Wright, “War begins when any state of the world manifests its intention to make war by some overt act, which may take the form of an act of war.” Quincy Wright, “Changes in the Concept of War,” 18 American Journal of International Law (1924) 758). In his review of customary international law in the nineteenth century, Professor Brownlie concluded, “that in so far a ‘state of war’ had any generally accepted meaning it was a situation regarded by one or both parties to a conflict as constituting a ‘state of war.’” (Brownlie, 38).

Cleveland concluded by an “act of war…the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown.”(Annexure 1—President Cleveland’s message to the Senate and House of Representatives dated 18 December 1893, Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, 119 International Law Reports (2001) 608). More importantly, Cleveland referred to the Hawaiian people as “friendly and confiding,” not “hostile.” This is a classic case of where the United States President admits an unjust war, but a state of war nevertheless. In the absence of a treaty or agreement to end the state of war that has ensued for over a century, international humanitarian law regulates the Hawaiian situation.

These are the very matters that will come before the International Commission of Inquiry: Incidents of War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands—The Larsen Case.

From a “State of Peace” to a “State of War” – Hawai‘i and the United States since 1893

As the Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom pointed out in, “in the nineteenth century the Hawaiian Kingdom existed as an independent State recognized as such by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and various other States, including by exchanges of diplomatic or consular representatives and the conclusion of treaties.” (Award, Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, 119 International Law Reports (2001) 581). As an independent State, the Hawaiian Kingdom was a member of the Family of Nations along with other independent States including the United States. According to Westlake in 1894, they comprised, “First, all European States […] Secondly, all American States […] Thirdly, a few Christian States in other parts of the  world, as the Hawaiian Islands, Liberia and the Orange Free State.” (John Westlake, Chapters on the Principles of International Law (1894) 81).

In 1893, there were 44 independent and sovereign States in the Family of Nations: Argentina, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chili, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Hawaiian Kingdom, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Liberia, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Orange Free State that was later annexed by Great Britain in 1900, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Domingo, San Salvador, Serbia, Spain, Sweden-Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, United States of America, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In 1945, there were 45, and today there are 193.

From a State of Peace to a State of War—No Middle Ground

International law, which is law between nations, formed the protocol and relations between these member States. “Traditional international law was based upon a rigid distinction between the state of peace and the state of war,” states Judge Greenwood (Christopher Greenwood, “Scope of Application of Humanitarian Law,” in Dieter Fleck (ed), The Handbook of the International Law of Military Operations (2nd ed., 2008) 45). “Countries were either in a state of peace or a state of war; there was no intermediate state.” (Ibid.) This is also reflected by the fact that the renowned jurist of international law, Lassa Oppenheim, separates his treatise on International Law into two volumes, Vol. I—Peace, and Vol. II—War and Neutrality.

Throughout the nineteenth century, the Hawaiian Kingdom was not only independent and sovereign, but also a neutral State explicitly recognized by treaties with Germany, Spain and Sweden-Norway. The Hawaiian Kingdom enjoyed a state of peace with all States. This status of affairs, however, was interrupted by the United States when the state of peace was transformed to a state of war that began on January 16, 1893. On January 17, 1893, Queen Lili‘uokalani, the Executive Monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, made the following protest and a conditional yielding of her authority to the President of the United States in response to military action taken against the Hawaiian government by order of the U.S. resident diplomat John Stevens. The Queen’s protest stated:

“I, Liliuokalani, by the grace of God and under the constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen, do hereby solemnly protest against any and all acts done against myself and the constitutional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by certain persons claiming to have established a provisional government of and for this Kingdom. That I yield to the superior force of the United States of America, whose minister plenipotentiary, His Excellency John L. Stevens, has caused United States troops to be landed at Honolulu and declared that he would support the said provisional government. Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.” (Annexure 2, Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, 119 International Law Reports (2001) 612).

Under international law, the landing of American troops without the consent of the Hawaiian government was an act of war. But in order for an act of war to transform the status of affairs to a state of war, the act must be unlawful under international law. In other words, an act of war would not change the status of affairs to a state of war from that of peace if the action were legal under international law. According to Professor Wright, “An act of war is an invasion of territory…and so normally illegal. Such an act if not followed by war gives grounds for a claim which can be legally avoided only by proof of some special treaty or necessity justifying the act.” (Quincy Wright, “Changes in the Concept of War,” 18 American Journal of International Law (1924), 756).

Military action in a foreign State considered lawful under international law, includes proportionate reprisals in response to another State’s action just short of all out war, and military actions taken to protect its citizenry in the foreign State. Furthermore, the act of war must have been intentional—animo belligerendi, to overthrow the government of the invaded State. As international law is a law between States, which derives from agreements, the claim made by Queen Lili‘uokalani that United States troops unlawfully invaded the kingdom had to be acknowledged by the President of the United States as true. In her protest she called upon the President to investigate the facts and then “undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.” In international law, this is called restitutio in integrum.

After ten months of investigating the overthrow, President Cleveland notified the Congress on December 18, 1893, that the “military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu was of itself and act of war” that could not be justified under international law as “either with the consent of the Government of Hawaii or for the bona fide purpose of protecting the imperiled lives and property of citizens of the United States.” (Annexure 1—President Cleveland’s message to the Senate and House of Representatives dated 18 December 1893, Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom, 119 International Law Reports (2001) 604).

The President then concluded, “By an act of war, committed with the participation of a diplomatic representative of the United States and without authority of Congress, the Government of a feeble but friendly and confiding people has been overthrown.” (Ibid, 608). He notified the Congress that he initiated negotiations with the Queen “to aid in the restoration of the status existing before the lawless landing of the United States forces at Honolulu on the 16th of January last, if such restoration could be effected upon terms providing for clemency as well as justice to all parties concerned.” (Ibid, 610). What Cleveland did not know at the time of his message to the Congress was that the Queen, on the very same day in Honolulu, accepted the conditions for settlement in an attempt to return to a state of peace. The executive mediation began on November 13, 1893 between the Queen and U.S. diplomat Albert Willis. The President was not aware of the agreement until January 12, 1894.

Despite being unaware of the agreement to settle, President Cleveland’s political determination was an acknowledgment that the United States was in a state of war with the Hawaiian Kingdom since the invasion occurred on January 16, 1893, as stated by the Queen in her protest on January 17, 1893. International law defines war as “a contention between States for the purpose of overpowering each other.” (L. Oppenheim, International Law, vol. II—War and Neutrality (3rd ed., 1921) 74).

Once a state of war ensued between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States, “the law of peace ceased to apply between them and their relations with one another became subject to the laws of war, while their relations with other states not party to the conflict became governed by the law of neutrality.” (Greenwood, 45). This outbreak of a state of war between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States would “lead to many rules of the ordinary law of peace being superseded…by rules of humanitarian law.” (Ibid, 46).

A state of war “automatically brings about the full operation of all the rules of war and neutrality.” (Myers S. McDougal, “The Initiation of Coercion: A Multi-temporal Analysis,” 52 American Journal of International Law (1948) 247). And according to Venturini, “If an armed conflict occurs, the law of armed conflict must be applied from the beginning until the end, when the law of peace resumes in full effect.” (Gabriella Venturini, “The Temporal Scope of Application of the Conventions,” in Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta, and Marco Sassòli (eds), The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary (2015), 52). Only by a treaty or agreement between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States could a state of peace be restored, without which a state of war ensues.

In order to transform the state of war to a state of peace an attempt was made by executive agreement entered into between President Cleveland, by his resident diplomat Albert Willis, and Queen Lili‘uokalani in Honolulu on December 18, 1893 (David Keanu Sai, “A Slippery Path Towards Hawaiian Indigeneity: An Analysis and Comparison between Hawaiian State Sovereignty and Hawaiian Indigeneity and Its Use and Practice Today,” 10 Journal of Law and Social Challenges (2008) 119-127). Cleveland, however, was unable to carry out his duties and obligations to restore the situation that existed before the unlawful landing of American troops due to political wrangling in the Congress. The state of war continued.

It is a common misconception that only through a declaration of war by the Congress could a state of war exist for the United States. A Federal court in 1946, however, dispensed with this theory in New York Life Ins. Co. v. Bennion. The Court stated, “it cannot be denied that the acts and conduct of the President, acting in furtherance of his constitutional authority and duty, would constitute a political determination of a state of war of which the courts would take judicial notice. We can discern no demonstrable difference in the supposition and the actual facts, and we therefore conclude that the formal declaration by the Congress on December 8th was not an essential prerequisite to a political determination of the existence of a state of war commencing with the attack on Pearl Harbor [on December 7th].” (New York Life Ins. Co. v. Bennion, 158 F.2d 260 (C.C.A. 10th, 1946), 41 American Journal of International Law (1947), 682).

Therefore, the conclusion reached by President Cleveland that an act of war had been committed by the United States was a “political determination of the existence of a state of war,” and that a formal declaration of war by the Congress was not essential. The “political determination” by President Cleveland regarding the actions taken by the military forces of the United States on January 16, 1893, was the same as the “political determination” by President Roosevelt regarding actions taken by the military forces of Japan on December 7, 1945. Both “political determinations,” being acts of war, created a state of war for the United States. A declaration of war by the Congress was not essential in both situations.

The Duty of Neutrality by Third States

When the President declared that a state of war existed by an act of war committed by the American military in his message to Congress, all of the other 42 States were under a duty of neutrality. “Since neutrality is an attitude of impartiality, it excludes such assistance and succour to one of the belligerents as is detrimental to the other, and, further such injuries to the one as benefit the other.” (L. Oppenheim, International Law, vol. II—War and Neutrality (3rd ed., 1921) 401).

The duty of a neutral State, not a party to the conflict, “obliges him, in the first instance, to prevent with the means at his disposal the belligerent concerned from committing such a violation,” e.g. to deny recognition of a puppet government unlawfully created by an act of war. (Ibid, 496). Twenty of these States violated their obligation of impartiality by recognizing the so-called Republic of Hawai‘i, a United States puppet government created by an act of war committed by the United States on January 17, 1893. These States include:

“If a neutral neglects this obligation, he himself thereby commits a violation of neutrality, for which he may be made responsible by a belligerent who has suffered through the violation of neutrality committed by the other belligerent and acquiesced in by him.” (Ibid, 497). The recognition of the so-called Republic of Hawai‘i did not create any legality or lawfulness on the part of the puppet regime, but rather is the indisputable evidence that these States’ violated their duty to be neutral. Diplomatic recognition of governments occurs during a state of peace and not during a state of war, unless providing recognition of belligerency status. The recognitions were not recognizing the Republic as a belligerent in a civil war with the Hawaiian Kingdom, but rather under the false pretense that the Republic succeeded in a revolution and therefore was the new government of Hawai‘i during a state of peace. As such, their relationship with the Hawaiian Kingdom has since been regulated by humanitarian law.

State of War—No Question

The state of war has ensued to date, only to be concealed by a false narrative promoted by the United States government that Hawai‘i was purportedly annexed in 1898 through American legislation (Sai, Slippery Path, 84-94), coupled with a formal policy of the war crime of denationalizing school children beginning in 1906. The purpose of the policy was to obliterate the national consciousness of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the minds of the children and replace it with American patriotism. Within three generations, the effect of the denationalization was nearly complete.

The Hawaiian Kingdom has been in a “legal” state of war with the United States for over a century and the application of the laws of occupation and applicable humanitarian law has not diminished. Without a treaty between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States to return the state of affairs back to a state of peace, the state of war continues. As Judge Greenwood stated, “Countries were either in a state of peace or a state of war; there was no intermediate state.”

This is the longest state of war ever to have taken place in the history of international relations, which has created a humanitarian crisis of unimaginable proportions. International humanitarian laws apply, which includes customary international law regarding war and neutrality, 1907 Hague Regulations and the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

International Commission of Inquiry: Incidents of War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands – The Larsen Case

Proceedings to establish an International Commission of Inquiry under Part III of the 1907 Hague Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes stemming from the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitration held under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (1999-2001) were initiated under a Special Agreement dated January 19, 2017. The title for these proceedings is “Incidents of War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands—The Larsen Case.”

On March 3, 2017, Professor Francesco Francioni was designated by the parties by a supplemental agreement to be the appointing authority, whose function is to form the International Commission of Inquiry. Professor Francioni is an ad hoc judge on the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea as well as serving as one of five arbitrators in a dispute under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The “Enrica Lexie” Case (Italy v. India). The parties notified the appointing authority that the prospective commissioners shall not United States citizens; must have command of the English language; have expertise in international humanitarian law; and include, at least, one woman.

Article I of the Special Agreement was amended by the parties on March 26, 2017 to allow the Commission to designate a Secretary General to serve as a registry, and for the President of the Commission to work with the Secretary General in order to determine a location for the sitting of the Commission. The only stipulation by the parties is that the sitting shall be in Europe.